Traveling Companions: an occasional series on our favorite gear

Posted January 04 2013


In the fall of 1989 my parents gave me a gift: a pink Patagonia fleece balaclava with purple trim. I know what you are thinking. Just the thing every 12 year old boy is looking for. The thing is, I fell in love with that balaclava, and for the last 23+ years, that balaclava has been on every cold weather adventure I've taken. It has peaked out from under a ski helmet in Colorado, a climbing helmet in Utah, and too many jacket hoods to count all up and down the Right Coast. 23 years of good hard use. Sure it shows some pilling, and there are a few loose threads, but after being stuffed into countless packs and jacket pockets, who'd complain? Sometimes we see folks bring back gear for warranty reasons when a little time with needle and thread would mean that they could keep an item instead of having it replaced. Would Patagonia give me a free replacement balaclava if I sent mine back with some seams coming loose? Absolutely. Would that balaclava be hot pink and evoke memories of -20 degree nights in the Adirondacks with my brother, the snow cave we dug in the shop parking lot, epic Laurel Highlands backcountry skiing, or snowy days at Seneca? Not a chance. So if you and I ever get a chance to spend some time in the cold together, you can bet on an appearance by one of my most trusted traveling partner, my pink Patagonia fleece balaclava, style #47710.